Issue 160, July 2016
NTU marks its 25th anniversary with the Class of 2016
​Honorary degrees conferred on world-renowned scientist Professor Sir David Payne and master potter Mr Iskandar Jalil

The Class of 2016 marks the 25th batch of graduates from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) since NTU was inaugurated as a university in 1991. Over 9,000 graduands will receive their bachelor’s and higher degrees in 18 Convocation ceremonies this year. 

This year saw the pioneer batch of graduands from three programmes - the Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP), the University Scholars Programme (USP), as well as the History programme.

The NTU 2016 Convocation commenced on 25 July, presided by the Pro-Chancellor, Dr Wee Cho Yaw, UOB Chairman Emeritus. Also present was Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), Mr Ong Ye Kung.

NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson said: “This year’s Convocation is particularly special as NTU celebrates its 25th Anniversary and the Class of 2016 is our 25th cohort of graduates. NTU is celebrating its silver jubilee in service to Singapore.

"From a teaching university in 1991, NTU has rapidly progressed to become a globally recognised research-intensive university today, ranking 13th internationally and first among the world’s young universities.”

Prof Andersson paid tribute to NTU’s predecessor institutions, Nanyang University and Nanyang Technological Institute and the contributions the graduates have made to NTU and Singapore. Today, NTU has more than 200,000 alumni.

Honorary degrees conferred on leaders in science and art
NTU also conferred honorary doctorate degrees on two leaders in science and art for significant contribution to their fields.

Professor Sir David Payne received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Engineering for his revolutionary work in optoelectronics, an essential field in modern telecommunications. A world-renowned scientist from the University of Southampton and the Director of the university’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), Professor Payne and his team pioneered a new form of optical amplifier in the 1980s which enabled the rapid development of the Internet as we know it today.

As a visiting professor at NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, he proposed the setting up of the Research Centre of Excellence in Advanced Photonics Technologies. His efforts in galvanising the participation of various agencies and in securing funding were instrumental in the establishment of South-east Asia’s first high-tech fibre optic research manufacturing facility at NTU. Prof Payne also worked closely with NTU faculty to set up the Photonics Institute (TPI) and Centre for Optical Fibre Technology (COFT).

Another honorary degree recipient is Singapore’s master potter and ceramicist Mr Iskandar Jalil. He was conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters for his accomplishments in pottery and his meritorious service in education.

Mr Iskandar joined the Teachers Training College (a predecessor of the National Institute of Education) to train as a mathematics and science teacher in 1960, his first of many future connections to NTU. Later on, he took up two Colombo Plan Scholarships, one to study textile weaving and spinning, and the other to study Ceramics Engineering in Japan, which marked the start of his lifelong journey with pottery, education and a cultural relationship with Japan.

Since the 1970s, Mr Iskandar’s creations have graced many museums and public spaces, and have been included in the collections of dignitaries such as former Singapore President Wee Kim Wee, former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, the Sultan of Brunei, former American President George Bush, the former Governor of Hong Kong, and the Istana Presidential Art Collection Singapore.

Pioneer batch of REP, USP and History graduates
NTU’s signature Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP) saw its first batch of 33 students graduate on 25 July. Launched in 2011, the programme blends engineering, science, business, technology management and humanities, awarding a Bachelor of Engineering Science and a Master of Science in Technology Management in just four and a half years. 

Fifty graduates from the first batch of the University Scholars Programme (USP) also received their bachelor’s degrees this year. Started in 2012, USP has attracted many top students with its offer of a multi-disciplinary programme and opportunities for overseas exchange in top universities.

© Nanyang Technological University Singapore